Girl Bosses, One Voice to Hear

June 20, 2019

Leaders Start With Why

Leaders Start With Why Women Business

You have been molded to focus on your career or business. You have spent a lot of time and attention on your job, and are confident in your performance.

But somehow, you feel a disconnect. You have lost interest in what you are doing.

Let me ask you….

Have you felt a lack of meaning or purpose in your work life?

Have you asked yourself, “What am I supposed to do with my life?”

Have you had an uneasiness within you?

Are you stressed and unfulfilled?

Are you pessimistic about your future?

Simon Sinek’s book, “Start With Why,” shares an innovative approach to personal discovery helping leaders to find passion, as well as guide those around you to be inspired.

I can’t wait to share his approach!

Imagine leading without choosing manipulations and discipline to get the behavior you want from the people you lead.

Realize how you can find passion and purpose where you are- instead of quitting your job to find yourself in the same meaningless position.

You can do this by discovering your Why!

The idea of Why came from what Sinek calls the “Golden Circle.” It is vividly explained in his popular 2010 TED Talk. Put simply, it is an alternate perspective that is defined by the What, How and Why.

Let’s dive into the terms.


You know what you do every day. Your employees know what they do. This is the position you have. A manager, a chef, a beautician, a receptionist, a banker, a therapist, a nurse, a teacher… you get my point. Your what is easy to identify.


Some of you even know how you do what you do. Many organizations call this your unique selling proposition. The unique selling proposition is how you do something unique or better. So, your how may sound something like this:

“I am an innovative architect who helps my clients to build homes.”

Or, “I am a dynamic beautician who loves to do my clients hair for special events.”

This may differentiate you and motivate you for a short time. But, it is not very inspiring.


Very few people can articulate why they do what they do.

When discussing why you do what you do, it is not referring to the material reasons like money or power.

Your Why is your meaning, purpose, cause or belief. It is what gets you out of bed in the morning.

This is a deeper level of thought, so we don’t take time to discover it.

The idea of the Golden Circle goes from a very clear idea of purpose to a very fuzzy idea of purpose.

However, when you take the time to define your Why or help your employees to define their Why, you can create wonderful results.

Many years ago, I found myself lost.

My business was destroyed in a flood. This was one of the darkest times in my life. I lost everything I had worked so hard for in one day.

But I want to share- This devastating event brought me clarity.

I realized my focus and effort on business profits and success left me with little meaning and connection to why I chose to do what I did every day.

After this experience, I was introduced to an amazing concept of a personal mission and purpose.

This concept gave me a huge aha moment changing my life.  I was a 31-year-old business owner with a family. I was clear on my company’s mission and purpose; however, I had never thought of my personal purpose or that of my employees.

After this realization, I was ashamed.

I spent more time on my organizational development than my personal development or my employees’ personal development. This was enlightenment moving the pendulum of my life!

One For Women Melissa Smalley Simon Sinek Start With Why

Why your Why Matters

A new perspective can be a daunting task. However, discovering your Why is important to creating a life you deserve.

When you find your why you will notice these impacts in your life as a leader:

  • Leaders with a clear sense of why have a way to tell the outside world who they are and what they believe. If you have a clear sense of why it is possible for you to truly connect to people in your life. The perception of others will be more than what you do as a leader, but it is who you are as a leader.
  • Something remarkable will happen when you discover your Why. Suddenly, you will stop comparing yourself to others. You will not be compelled to feel better about yourself at the expense of others. You will be proud of your uniqueness and begin to lead with confidence.
  • Your Why gives you a deep-rooted reason to live. Without it, you will not have a solid foundation to lead and can be put in precarious positions. Your Why gives context, purpose, and direction to your leadership.
  • Finding your why can be very rewarding. When you connect with your Why, you bring fulfillment and harmony in your life. When you are a leader, you face adversity and contradiction, living your inner purpose through your Why brings you peace.
  • Filtering your decisions through your Why give you better clarity and consistency with your leadership. Knowing your personal Why helps you to make the right decisions. Your why gives you balance and certainty as you lead others.

How do you create your Why?

Creating your Why starts with clarity. You must become clear on your life to understand your purpose and passion.

The next steps will guide you to reflect back in your past experience, reflect in to create your values, and reflect forward to develop your legacy, as you create your Why.

Step 1:       Reflect Back

Reflect on at least 3 life experiences or challenges you have overcome.

Step 2:       Reflect In

Reflect on people who have impacted your life and the values they taught you.

Step 3:       Reflect Forward

Reflect on characteristics you would like to be remembered showing others?

Step 4:       Your Why

Reflect on what you wrote. How do you want to make an impact in the world?

Choose 3 Action Words that communicate the impact you want to make.

I challenge you to look at your life from a different perspective.
Connect to your career or business in a new way. Connect with meaning and purpose.

Share your Three Word Why in the comments below!

Written by Melissa Smalley, an Executive Director in the healthcare industry, Writer, Educator and Coach

Melissa Smalley Start With Why Simon Sinek

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One For Women is honored to have Melissa Smalley, Executive Director, Writer, Educator, and Coach, share her voice and her important message as part of our One Voice to Hear series.

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